Hector Santiago, who has been running the kitchen at Abattoir since July 2013, has turned in his resignation as executive chef, and Joe Schafer, who recently left the same position at King + Duke, will take over the restaurant's kitchen. Santiago is leaving to pursue ventures of his own, including a project at Ponce City Market.
Details of the concept are not yet locked down, but Santiago's wife Leslie confirmed that he has signed a letter of intent at PCM. Bob Townsend of the AJC first reported the change at Abattoir.
Before his time at Abattoir, Santiago was chef/owner of Pura Vida, Super Pan Latino, and El Burro Pollo in Poncey-Highland. Anne Quatrano, who owns Abattoir and several other restaurants with her husband Clifford Harrison, said there was always an understanding that Santiago's time at the restaurant was limited.
"We hate to see Hector go — Hector is fantastic — but we always knew it was a finite run," Quatrano said in a phone conversation with Eater Atlanta. "We just weren't ever sure how finite. And it worked out great for both of us, I think. It was a place that he could really sink his teeth into, but also we knew from the beginning that he had other projects, with him as the owner, coming up in the future.
"He's going to be with us until October, probably mid-to-late October."
Schafer will have the opportunity to ease into his role as executive chef before he takes over at Abattoir, working with Santiago and in the kitchen at another restaurant owned by Quatrano.
"We're looking forward to the next phase," Quatrano said. "They're going to have some time to work together [at Abattoir], which we think is positive, and Joe will spend a little time working at Bacchanalia, too, to get to know all of our crew."
While the menu at Abattoir shouldn't change much, Schafer will be able to influence the food.
"We're very supportive of our creative staff," Quatrano said. "We want them to make decisions, of course. I mean, there is a formula — it may be a loose formula at Abattoir — but there is a formula for what we're looking for. I certainly think he'll work within that, put his mark on that."